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Jari-Matti Latvala sets the pace on Sunday's opener

Jari-Matti Latvala sets the pace on Sunday's opener

02.08.2009: FINLAND RALLY SS20 BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala was the star of Sunday's opening stage in Finland, taking his fourth stage win of the rally and a big bite out of the gap to Sebastien Loeb's second place.

FINLAND RALLY SS20

BP Ford Abu Dhabi Team driver Jari-Matti Latvala was the star of Sunday's opening stage in Finland, taking his fourth stage win of the rally and a big bite out of the gap to Sebastien Loeb's second place.

On Saturday night, Ford team boss Malcolm Wilson said he didn't mind if Latvala finished third or fourth today, but over the 10.82km of SS20 the Finn slashed the gap to second from 36.3sec to 26.0sec.

After a nasty bout of food poisoning on Saturday, Latvala said he was much better today. "I'm actually feeling good - nearly perfect," he said. "The drive was good. I made a little mistake near the start when I was finding the rhythm but no problems."

Completing the stage before Latvala, Citroen C4 driver Loeb didn't report any concerns at the finish control. "It was okay, no problems, just driving carefully," he said.

Dani Sordo was second fastest on the stage, and not hopeful of taking the final podium spot from Latvala. "My time is not bad but it will be difficult to catch him. Maybe I can take a little more risk, but 13sec I think is too much," he said.

Citroen Junior team driver Sebastien Ogier was third fastest, and narrowed the gap to local driver Matti Rantanen in the overall standings from 17.5sec to 14.7sec. "The stage was good and we took some time from him - but not a lot!" said the Frenchman.

Rantanen ended Saturday's competition well placed in fifth overall but dissatisfied with his performance. He was more positive this morning: "Now I'm happy, we had a good stage, no major mistakes. The next one should be fun," he said.

Matthew Wilson was fourth fastest in his Stobart team Ford Focus. "That was an awesome stage - it’s my favourite," said the Briton.

After a rainy start to Saturday's competition, Sunday dawned bright and sunny with a light breeze and an early morning temperature of 15 degrees Celsius.

Rally Finland leader Mikko Hirvonen kept things neat and tidy through the stage, setting the sixth fastest time but maintaining a healthy 35.5sec advantage. "A very steady drive, no panic. I'll try and keep my pace," said Mikko.

 
  
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Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/finland-rally-jari-matti-latvala-pace-bp-ford-abu-dhabi-team-loeb-citroen-ogier-sebastien---67466.html

02.08.2009 / MaP

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